Chris Simms

Orion £6.99 pbk

Released: 13th June  2010

Reviewer: L.J. Hurst


Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung.


In his sixth DI John Spicer novel, Chris Simms shows why he has made the short list for the 2010 CWA Dagger in the Library award, the award that is given to a writer nominated by library users. Equally, it shows that a trip to their local library is preparing a lot of people for dealing with trouble that has come a long way. In fact, like several books that have come my way recently, that trouble has its heart in Iraq and Afghanistan, but on the way out it has snowballed. DI Spicer will not immediately realise how big that trouble has grown, how many people it will involve, nor how close it might come; not until it comes home. 

Spicer, like many coppers, has problems in his home life. His marriage is on the rocks. He does not know how many people are dying elsewhere, until one by one various asylum seekers are found in their bed-sits dead. Gradually, the fact the dead were sometime seamen begins to suggest a link. Meanwhile, along the coast of the British Isles notes of a diary kept by another castaway begin to drift ashore tucked in rubber ducks, detailing the deaths aboard a life raft somewhere between the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic. As the notes are found, out of chronological sequence, it is clear that something terrible has happened. Readers have an idea what, even if they have no idea why. Spicerís view is more constrained but he has the strength to confront the global dealers in death. 

Based in Manchester, Spicer finds himself having to liaise with the Immigration Service in Liverpool. He has less control when the security services from London become involved. And intentionally or not, he does not know and learns nearly too late about the sort of people with whom his social working partner is coming in contact. 

Part police procedural, part blockbuster thriller, even part woman-in-peril, CUT ADRIFT brings home the troubles of the world to one man, and tests how he copes. Those who surround him may be less fortunate






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